Bareable: Two young shoppers choose sunglasses while wearing bikinis
Bareable: Two young shoppers choose sunglasses while wearing bikinis Marie Cook

Eye candy is sweet for watchers

GOTTA love Byron Bay.

Where else could you wear so little and get away with it?

On a particularly steamy day in the beach enclave this week, a Northern Star photo- grapher caught these lasses doing a spot of shopping.

Seems they wanted some sunglasses to shade their eyes. After all, you wouldn't want to bare it at the beach, or on the sidewalk, without some optical protection.

But it seems that the idea of covering up other parts hadn't occurred. And, really, why should it?

Byron has always been celebrated as a place where people could let it all hang out, spiritually, emotionally and physically.

Originally surfers, students and hippies flocked to the area, attracted to the tolerant, alternative attitude of the community.

Today the town retains that belief that makes it a Mecca for anyone tired of city restrictions: freedom for all.

You can get a tattoo, anywhere you please; have your chakras realigned and your energy balanced; eat whole food and raw food and vegan food and chase it all down with a double scoop of gelato or a cocktail; and, of course, do a little shopping.

Of course freedom means different things to different people.

But, in Byron, it does encompass the freedom to show off the body beautiful.

There's always been plenty of nude swimming and sunbathing, with signs at Belongil Beach now declaring that swimming costumes must be warn widely ignored.

Says Paul Waters, president of Byron United: "No-one takes much notice of nudity."

"Bikinis on the beach, and on the streets, are quite normal. In fact they hardly turn a head, unless it's Elle Macpherson in a bikini, and then we look, out of respect."

While most shoppers didn't opt for G-string bikinis - "Brazilian cut is more common" - Mr Waters said each to their own.

"It's what people expect in Byron," he says. "And it's good for tourism.

"You see men on the streets in Speedos too, although I'll be sticking to my boardies."

Glenn Costello, president of Ballina Chamber of Commerce, said you were more likely to see "little scooters with oldies on them" in Ballina than girls in G-strings.

"At Lennox Head, though, you may see bikini wear.

"But any distance where people have to hop in their car to go to the shops usually means they grab something to put on."

Mr Costello said the chamber would be delighted to see anyone, wearing anything - or not - in River St.

"Retailers have been heavily affected by the closure of Woolworths," he said.

"So we welcome anyone coming to Ballina."

David Martin, president of the Lismore Chamber of Commerce, agreed.

"We see a wide range of fashion and clothing here."

 WOULD YOU SHOP IN A BIKINI?



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